As someone who is working on Field Stewards, calling farmers, and running the numbers—I’m excited to tell you about impacts and outcomes in our second year!
First, you might be asking yourself, what is Field Stewards? Environmental Initiative, Conservation Marketplace Midwest, the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District, and Kieser and Associates developed Field Stewards as a way to reward farmers who go above and beyond in their care of our natural resources. By providing a way for food companies to provide financial incentives to farmers who protect water quality on their farmland, we are investing in conservation leadership and a higher quality of life for communities across Minnesota.
FIELD STEWARDS BY THE NUMBERS
Before we get to this year’s accomplishments, I’m going to tell you about our first year.
In 2016, we…
- Paid 15 Stearns County farmers who maintain a high level of environmental protection on their 2015 fields
- Enrolled 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans that meet a high threshold for water quality – using practices like precision nutrient management, conservation tillage, and cover crops
So, what’s happened during Field Stewards’ second year? We’ve been busy, and in 2017, we…
- Distributed payments to 25 farmers who met the threshold for water quality protection across their entire farm in 2016
- Enrolled 2,000 acres of corn and soybean fields– double from the previous year
Quite the increase, right? We’re thankful for our partners, farmers, and food companies for making this year more impactful than the last. Payments to farmers were made possible by funding from Pilgrim’s Pride poultry company– an investment in the Stearns County community where their employees live, work and play.
However, we know we still have a long way to go. As of 2012, there were 757,637 acres in crop production in Stearns County, so this is just a start for rewarding conservation leadership. And that’s only Stearns County! As Field Stewards continues to grow, we’ll have a whole state and region to work with.
Currently, we are talking to other companies who are interested in investing in sustainable agricultural supply chains and the natural resources of their communities. If you are interested in giving your company a sustainability boost, improving quality of life where your food production happens, or getting more information, talk to Greg Bohrer, who leads the Field Stewards program.
I’m looking forward to seeing how Field Stewards continues to create farmer-company partnerships that support those who go above and beyond for water quality. If you want to learn more about Field Stewards, visit our website at www.FieldStewards.org.